On 17 March 2021, the Scottish Government published the Testing Strategy Update (external website).
It highlighted the challenges faced in the management of the next stages of the pandemic and explained how an expanded WGS service for Scotland will help address these challenges.
We will be expanding the current capacity for the WGS service in collaboration with the Scottish Specialist Virology Centres and the Medical Research Council (MRC) University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR).
This programme of work started in April 2021 and runs into 2022.
WGS will provide essential surveillance data to help us understand:
- vaccine efficacy
- virus transmission chains
- changes in the virus that alter its properties
- virus spread on a geographical scale
- effectiveness of infection control measures
- effectiveness of public health interventions
To ensure we see the most benefit, we anticipate that we will need to continue routine, comprehensive genetic sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 in Scotland.
As well as increasing our capacity for sequencing, we will start using allele-specific PCR tests when necessary to rapidly screen known mutations within a variant of concern. This will help to minimise community spread through:
- early public health assessment
- rapid interventions
Find out more about the evolution of viral mutations.